Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Advocate (Rumpoles) has closed it doors

The Advocate, Chichester Street, Belfast - ceased trading in January 2009

Over the years, I enjoyed the odd lazy lunch in Rumpoles, the restaurant/bar opposite the Belfast courts on the corner of Chichester Street and Victoria Street. You'd be sitting chomping down your Chicken Maryland and suddenly you'd be transported back to Shakespeare's England as men in wigs and black gowns would walk past! The favourite (?) haunt of the local legal eagles, it seemed like it would always be there.

A while back, it closed for refurbishment, reopening as The Advocate. It's owner Mark Beirne sold the "gastro bar" to Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based Ultimate Leisure (which recently changed its name to PBR/Premium Bars & Restaurants).

And at the end of January The Advocate ceased trading. The end of an era. Not sure now where all the barristers and solicitors will discuss their cases? Neither Cafe Legal (pronounced in a French accent Cafe Le Gal?) nor the catering in the Bar Library get great reports.

But The Advocate's closure - only days after the death of Rumpole's creator John Mortimer - surely points to how the economic pressure is hitting the legal profession as well as local catering outlets.


Timothy Belmont said...

It's hard to understand how a place like that in such a prime location could fail.

There is the Garrick Bar and Magennis's nearby, apart from the ones you mentioned, Alan.

I still recall what, I think, was called the Ulster Tavern or the Tavern Buttery across the road, at the other corner. It must have been popular with the legal profession and their victims. Sorry, clients!

Gwynneth said...

I quite liked The Advocate but it shot itself in the foot a bit. Several times we traipsed round (pre-Victoria square days it was a bit out of the way) only to find it randomly closed or holding some sort of reception or other. Still, quite amazed that with Victoria Square opening it should have done so badly.

John Self said...

I'm surprised to see it closed. The problem though is that apart from barristers lunching, I don't think it had much in the way of regular custom. It's too far from the centre of things - Cathedral Quarter or City Hall area - to be a weekend night spot, and even though it's right beside Victoria Square, it's at the wrong end: nobody other than business people and lawyers regular passes it.

d@\/e said...

About 10 years ago when I was in the Entertainment Industry I remember 'dj- ing' there for a run of Thursday nights, the characters that turned up were so entertaining. Some wearing long coats and hats so they couldn't be recognised outside. Others that walked about using walking sticks and as soon as a song started they wanted to dance to the sticks were thrown down and miraculously they didn't need the sticks anymore.Mr Gerald Michael Anderson, from the Beeb, called in to see the vocalist that worked with me one night at Rumpoles and didn't stay too long. He actually looked scared.It'd be a great venue to write a sitcom about. I'm sad to see it go.